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EU's green renovations proposal 'lacking ambition', says environmental lobby

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By Christopher Pitchers
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EU's green renovations proposal 'lacking ambition', says environmental lobby
Copyright  Luca Bruno/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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The EU's green renovations proposal is not ambitious enough, according to one of Europe's largest environmental organisations.

Speaking exclusively to Euronews, the European Environment Bureau (EEB), welcomed the Commission's plans but said they demonstrate a "weaker ambition" than is needed.

The so-called green renovation wave, announced last week, plans to revamp 35 million inefficient buildings across the EU by 2030, reducing their energy consumption in order to cut emissions and boost the continent's recovery.

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said last week: "To achieve the 55% emission reduction target by 2030 the EU should reduce buildings' greenhouse gas emissions by 60%, their energy consumption by 14% and energy consumption for heating and cooling by 18%.

"At the moment, we are reducing the energy consumption of the entire EU's building stock by 1% per year, by 2030 this should be at least 2%. This means around 10 million more renovated buildings during the next decade."

But Stephane Arditi, a policy manager at the EEB, told Euronews that this percentage increase just isn't enough: "At the core of the renovation wave there is this idea that we need to accelerate the renovation rate from 1% to 2%.

"But if you see the report by the European Parliament on what the science says, in terms of what could be needed to really progress our climate neutrality by 2050, we need around 3% rather than 2% - so why do we have only double, not triple? I just take that as a sign of their ambition."

The Commission sees this project as key to meeting its climate objectives - buildings account for 40% of the energy consumed within the EU and also make-up for 36% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

It also says that 160,000 green jobs will be created in the construction sector by 2030 as a result of the green renovation wave.

Euronews
European Commission figures on energy consumed by buildings and green jobs to be created by renovation waveEuronews

"This strategy will offer huge opportunities to embellish our cities and countryside, to get people to work immediately.

This is one of the areas where you can combine a long-term goal with short-term immediate results and it has a positive effect on SMEs because they will have to do all this work of refurbishing," Frans Timmermans, Commission Executive Vice-President, explained last week.

But how will the average energy consumer actually benefit from these changes?

Cédric de Meeûs, Vice-President of Public Affairs at LafargeHolcim, explained there are two main groups that will profit from the proposal: "Firstly, home-dwellers - people who live in flats, house, buildings - the energy renovation of their housing will lead to smaller energy bills and they will benefit from it directly on a monthly basis.

"There's then the perspective of building owners, who, through the implementation of the renovation wave across Europe, will be incentivised for green renovations, through better finance, more advantages of finance, as well as direct subsidies."

As part of the new plans, the EU wants to make it easier to access green renovation funds, which it will provide as part of the bloc's coronavirus recovery plan.

But while this is held up by a dispute between Member States and MEPs, the future of the green renovation wave is currently on hold.